Norma Loechel - Special Meetings - Marion High School, Australia - 1981

We often look at others for an example, forgetting that others might also be looking at us for an example. Someone said they were very disappointed they didn't see an example and it was said to them, "You would be far safer if you aimed at being an example." We are always safe when we are an example. Just looking for an example might even mean we are looking for an excuse for ourselves.

I was thinking of Abraham when God called him. He said, "Get thee out of thy country," and then God gave him a great promise. What He would do for him. He would make him a great nation and bless him and those that cursed him, He would curse. Those that blessed him, He would bless but the thing that impressed me was Abraham's obedience. It was an example and not only for his generation; perhaps his generation did not even understand at the time but it is an example to us today. We have the complete story, we can read it from beginning to end but they didn't. His own kinfolk; his own people, they didn't know as much about Abraham as we know about him today and we know that in everything that he did Abraham was an example.

Then when he moved out, we read of the time that there was strife between his herdsmen and Lot's herdsmen. Lot was his nephew and he felt his responsibility regarding Lot and he didn't look to Lot for an example. He knew from the very beginning he would have to be the example. He said to Lot, "Let there be no strife, for we are brethren." It was only among the herdsmen but a little thing like that can grow and Abraham could see the danger and he saw that that thing would grow and he didn't want any strife.

They were now mingling among the unsaved, godless nation and they had to be examples; they didn't know God and they were serving God but the nations they moved amongst knew nothing about a living God. We read then how Abraham gave Lot his choice. Lot chose the well watered plains of Sodom, there to dwell. Abraham was an example again in taking what Lot left but in that day God blessed him and he became rich in cattle, silver, and gold and so on.

I thought about what it said here of his riches, "He looked for a city which had foundations whose builder and maker was God. He looked for a heavenly city which had foundations whose builder and maker was God." He looked for a heavenly city but Lot, he entered into Sodom and Gomorrah and we all know the story so well. When he came out he had nothing, he even lost his wife; all he had was his two daughters. He didn't get rich by choosing the easy path. None of us will. We will get rich spiritually if God can bless our efforts and bless our sacrifice.

Then I was thinking of Joseph and he was an example to his brethren. He couldn't look to his brothers for an example. When his father sent him down to see his brethren, he came back with an evil report. I don't think Joseph was a spy, by any means. He innocently reported what he saw to his father, what he heard and it was evil and his father knew the deeds of his sons.

Joseph was an example to them and we read of Joseph having that dream where his sheaf stood and the others bowed to him. He would never ever forget that dream. He realised it was a dream from God, something that was real and that was something that stood by him in every test that he had and then when they sold him, they put him into a pit. They were even going to kill him.

Well, he could have been very hard toward his brothers. He could have hated them for it but he didn't. He remembered that dream and I think, right from the very beginning, he saw the pattern in that dream, the purpose in that dream that God had a plan for him although he couldn't see or understand that plan.

You see some of the toys children play with blocks - they have a picture on each square. It doesn't make any sense while it is lying on the floor but it is quite interesting, even for grownups. When you place them all together, you have to get every piece in its place and then you see the picture. Joseph, when he started out, he couldn't piece things together. He couldn't piece his experiences together but he knew God had a plan; he had faith to believe God had a plan for him and it was in that spirit he went forth, willing to suffer.

He was down in the pit when the Ishmaelites came and they took him. The Ishmaelites sold spices and also balm and myrrh. Someone once said that when they took Joseph down to Egypt they carried the most costly balm ever carried down. Joseph was a life preserver. They didn't know the value of Joseph. They would never have sold Joseph for twenty pieces of silver if they had known the value, but they didn't know.

Joseph kept the right spirit, he never had a revengeful spirit. If he had started out with a spirit of revenge and hatred toward his brothers, that spirit would have increased and his hatred would have grown but he never had it because he knew God was only using his brothers to fulfill His plan. No doubt they were evil deeds but God hindered them and in due time, God humbled them before Joseph. You know how Joseph finished. He was an example to his brothers and we can be an example in every experience.

He was innocent yet he was put into prison. Perhaps he would wonder, "What use can I be here? What can I do here?" He wasn't long in prison when the baker and the butler both had a dream. Joseph was able to interpret those dreams. He knew God gave him the interpretation when what he interpreted came true and by this Joseph knew it was from God. It wasn't just of himself. It wasn't just what he thought but it was from God and it wasn't long after that when God used him mightily and in everything Joseph did, everything he said, he was an example.

Then going further on in the Scripture, we see Daniel and Daniel was an example. How could Daniel look around on that nation that he was there amongst and his three companions? Could they expect an example from anyone? Would they be looking for an example? They couldn't and didn't look for one. They knew they had to be one and they were an example and in being an example and upholding the name of God and not bowing down at the command of the king, even though it meant their life didn't change. Daniel didn't know the lions would not tear him to pieces. Those three men cast into the burning furnace didn't know at the time God would rescue them and save them from burning. But they had faith in their God, whatever way it went and in it, they had a testimony and in it, they declared they had a God, a living God, a God that was alive.

Now, that nation had gods they were worshipping, but their gods were dead gods. The king admitted there was no God like Daniel's God. Daniel was an example in his day in everything he did, in everything he said he was an example and how important it is for us not to just look for an example, not even in our brothers and sisters, young or old but try to be an example. Now, I am saying that to myself as much as I am saying it to you because I know it is so important to be an example.

Then I thought of Nehemiah, how when he stood up in his day he was an example to his brethren. When he heard about his brethren and they were in captivity, all of them. He was the king's cup bearer, he had nothing to complain about, he had a good position but when he heard about his brethren and their suffering, then it says he wept and prayed. I liked to notice that he prayed first and then he went out to view the wall around Jerusalem. It took three days he did it at night time. God doesn't make it easy for His people, not in any age. He didn't make it easy in that age and why should He make it easy for us today?

We seem to often think it should be easy; things should not be so hard for us. When we have things easy, we seem to forget God. It is when things are hard, we call upon Him, we feel we need Him. Nehemiah, he went out and began to call the elders, they all began to start on rebuilding the wall. The wall had been broken down. They were of the same heart and mind and they prospered and if we are united in these things, we will prosper as a people. There are many others perhaps we can think of, they were examples.

I was thinking of Mary and Martha. Mary was an example. Martha was the one looking for an example. When Jesus came in to dine with them with His disciples, Martha was cumbered with much serving, she had a lot to do. I don't doubt it; she came to Jesus and said, "Carest Thou not my sister leaveth me to serve alone?" She was looking for an example and Jesus rebuked her, "Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled. Mary hath chosen the better part which shall not be taken away from her." She had chosen the good part, she put important things first; she realised it wouldn't be very long and the opportunity of sitting at the feet of Jesus would be gone. She wanted to make the very most of every moment, the little time given to her.

Now, if Martha had known this would be recorded of her! Don’t think she would have said it and if we knew the things that we say and the things that we have done, somebody might remember them. People have reminded me of things I have said and done and I wish they would forget about it. I don't want to know it; what we say and do, we might forget but others remember.

It was recorded, Mary was an example. We can always be an example, don't just look for an example. I thought of the time Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. He went into the upper room, the good man of the house had given them the room and they went in. Jesus and His twelve disciples and there was water and there was a towel. It says, "Jesus took the water and poured it into the basin." Then He took the towel and began to wash their feet but where was the servant? The thing that was missing was the servant, because it was a custom in every home that there would be water, towel, and a servant to wash the feet of those who went in because their feet would be dusty.

Over in the east, we take off our shoes; it is not done here but there, automatically. We just slip them off. We don't think because we come from another land, we don't do what the others do, everybody comes in without shoes on. It was the custom in that day for them to have their feet washed, why no servant? Well, there were twelve men there. Surely, from twelve there could have been one servant. But, no one came forward and Jesus took the towel. Jesus set the example. It was a sermon, but not in words, it is in action.

I don't think they would ever forget that sermon, it would speak very loudly. Perhaps if they knew this would be recorded, they would have been ready and willing and fighting to do it. No one came forward. We are often slow to be an example until we see an example in someone else. Jesus said He was their Lord and Master. He wasn't too high or too great to take the towel and wash their feet. He was a servant, also. "I came not to be served but to serve." I felt this was a wonderful lesson for us, that we would aim at being an example, not just looking for one.

I don't think Jesus was unduly worried about the disciples thinking, "Well, they hadn't learned much, they won't know how to serve." He knew very soon they would go out in the world to preach the gospel. Just one wasn't faithful, Judas Iscariot, but He knew the rest would be, they would go forth. The Father had given them to Him and He had kept them for Him and He knew once they went out into the world, the world wouldn't make Lords and Masters of them. The world would make sure they would be servants. Well, we can keep that place without somebody having to give us that place. It wouldn't be commendable. Sometimes we have to be given that place to serve but when we do it willingly, wholeheartedly, the Lord can bless us. I hope we remember that little lesson. Don't look just for an example but to be one.